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Kurt Shrout
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Kurt has a BA and MA in Communication and over 20 years of business experience, almost always serving as a project or program manager, director, or consultant or as an analyst. He lived and worked in many different locations in the U.S., London, England, and Hong Kong. He has experience in at... More
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  • YONG Discussion Message Unwarrantedly Censored By Yahoo Finance 10 comments
    Aug 6, 2010 11:24 PM | about stocks: YONG

    Below is the exact and complete content of a message that I attempted to post on the Yahoo Finance NIV message board.  Yahoo blocked this message from posting (i.e., censored it) each and every time that I attempted to post it.  This was true even after I removed the text that I have, now, italicized within the message.  I wrote Yahoo twice about unwarrantedly censoring this message.  Less two very minor grammatical corrections that I made (i.e., the addition of a missing “)” and removing an “a” between “have” and “Bachelors”), below the censored message are the exact and complete correspondences between Yahoo and me.  For those of you who know me from the Yahoo Finance message boards for NIV, YONG, and HRBN, please be aware that, if I suddenly stop participating on these message boards, it is because Yahoo terminated my account in a further act of unwarranted censorship.  Also, if you wish to comment on or discuss this situation, we should do it via this vehicle, and not via Yahoo Finance.  Based upon some research I have done, it appears that Yahoo may delete some or all of the messages pertaining to this topic; and I don't want anyone else to have difficulties with Yahoo based upon this specific situation.

    Censored message:

    "In important ways, YONG’s use of fulvic acid is newer. Fulvic acid has been in use in China and some other countries for hundreds of years; but not, to the extent I can determine, for agriculture. In terms of agriculture, there are research studies going back to at least the 1980’s. In terms of the plant product (which currently represents over 90% of revenues), it doesn’t really matter anyway. China has, to a large extent, duplicated the mistake that the U.S. and some other countries made. They relied on non-organic and/or N-P-K fertilizers and, in so doing, made the food being produced less-and-less nutritious over the years, et cetera. The U.S. ended up doing this very heavily because the U.S. is very big-money-driven, versus a true democracy. It’s a much longer story; but our companies don’t care if the people are malnourished, as long as they are making plenty of money off of the products they are selling, and our government is too disingenuous to do much about it. (The vitamin and mineral supplements that most people take fall far short of addressing the problem, and this is just a way in which our companies can make even more money without doing much public good.)

    I may have digressed some in the paragraph above; but the point is that YONG, and other companies that are producing products enabling China to reverse this situation, are emblematic of what should be a new era. Also, previously, fulvic acid products for agriculture were plagued by quality and misapplication issues. Many companies are still producing poor quality products and giving bad advice regarding application amounts, et cetera. YONG, and some other companies, are bucking this trend; and their sales do, and will continue to, reflect this.

    I don’t trust the ability of many companies with high margins to maintain them; but I do trust YONG’s ability to maintain its margins for years to come – and, in fact, grow them. Why? The coal mine and distribution rights purchases they made recently will each give them a significant amount of margin improvement, and they have barely tapped the domestic market available to them. They have almost certainly already smacked up against numerous competitors; but almost entirely, if not entirely, their competitors’ products and marketing (including assistance to farmers) aren’t as good.

    If no one else on this message board is interested in YONG, it is O.K. with me, of course. I have just been engaging in a good conversation about it with y’all. If someone else is interested, you may want to go to the YONG message board and see the messages I posted earlier today under Technical Viability Of YONG’s Products."

    Correspondence from me to Yahoo:

    "The URL involved is
    http://messages.finance.yahoo.com/Stocks_%28A_to_Z%29/Stocks_N/messagesview?bn=93315.
    This is, simply, the NIV message board.  I can post messages on this
    board, but I cannot post the message below.  Also, the blocking of this
    message followed an unnatural pattern.  (This is the easiest way I can
    say it.  It means, for instance, that it did not follow the pattern it
    follows when you accidently type a curse word within the text, or the
    like.)  You need to either allow me to post this message or give me a
    true and good reason why it was blocked.  If you do not, I will not
    simply sit on my hands.  The message is as follows; and, in a country
    that supposedly has free speech, there is nothing wrong with it."

    Response from Yahoo:

    "Thank you for writing to Yahoo! Message Boards.

    We have completed our evaluation of your abuse report in accordance with
    our Terms of Service, and because of our privacy guidelines, we do not
    disclose what, if any, action which may have been taken on a user's
    account.

    We can tell you that we may, in appropriate circumstances and at our
    sole discretion, terminate or take other action on accounts of users who
    may have violated our Terms of Service.

    You can review the Yahoo! Terms of Service here:

      
    http://info.yahoo.com/legal/us/yahoo/utos/utos-173.html

    Thank you for taking the time to report abuse on Yahoo!.

    Thank you again for contacting Yahoo! Message Boards."

    My response to Yahoo:

    "This is rather important, so I am going to give you one more chance to get this right.

     

    I have Bachelors and Masters degrees in Communication, and I have reviewed your terms of service.  The message I attempted to post does not violate your terms of service.  You have, simply, violated my right to free speech.  Moreover, everything I attempted to post is, actually, inarguable fact.  It is all so well supported by legitimate statistics, government documents, and other information that there is, actually, not another valid perspective.  The issue is that people have had, and continue to have, inadequate unbiased access to this information.

     

    Regardless of the above, it is not your place to make any judgment on matters such as these.  I did not curse; I did not attempt to sell goods or services via your message board (as I have seen some others do); and I did not attempt to incite violence.

     

    It is extremely important that you do not block messages such as mine.  Although you probably do not recognize it, the quality of our (United States) government, companies, and people have badly deteriorated in recent decades - to the point where we are relatively good at very little.  The only way that we can address this issue is by first recognizing our flaws in earnest and entirety.  Without doing this, we cannot begin to better ourselves.

     

    I strongly advise you to not respond to this email with a canned response.  You should be certain to involve management, at an adequately high level, prior to giving a final response.  I expect you, as I should, to respond to me within 24 hours; but, if you need more time to determine your final response as an organization, I understand.  Just don't take too long."

    Yahoo's response to me:

    "Thank you for writing to Yahoo! Message Boards.

    Yahoo! takes pride in the fact that our communities are an interesting
    place to interact, share, learn, and grow. In keeping with this spirit
    of community, we may periodically review posted content and remove posts
    that violate our Terms of Service (TOS).

    Please review the TOS to ensure that your posts are within our community
    conduct guidelines. The TOS can be found at:

      
    http://info.yahoo.com/legal/us/yahoo/utos/utos-173.html

    Thank you again for contacting Yahoo! Message Boards."



    Disclosure: Long NIV, YONG, HRBN
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Comments (11)
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  • creditanalyst
    , contributor
    Comments (16) | Send Message
     
    keep up the good work. -rhlee
    7 Aug 2010, 02:53 AM Reply Like
  • George Bikos
    , contributor
    Comments (3) | Send Message
     
    I have also recently been unable to post comments of a longer length, though within their character limitation. Sadly, according to their terms of service, they refuse the right to post anything for any reason. I wondered if my comments were censored as well, and they too were neither vulgar, inflammatory, or spam related. One of the pieces is posted below as an example. It is a shame there is not a place where an individual can enter a free state of discourse with others without fear of censorship; and furthermore, it is a shame that activities supposedly instated to reduce spam now impede the words of free men, while not even ridding us of the intended spam target.

     

    The offending piece is offered below...

     

    Investing has been, and always will be, about measuring value against price in relation to risk and possible reward. While the banks did suffer a massive decline it is unfair to blame the Federal Reserve for a lack of regulation, because the run on the banks was caused by the illicit, imprudent, and dare I say borderline illegal activities of shadow banking institutions such as citigroup.

     

    The reason the FED is not to blame is simple. The FED's domain is the banking institutions, and its primary role is the "lender of last resort". However, investment banking firms like Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, and Citigroup (also known as shadow banking institutions) are under the regulation of the S.E.C. and not the federal reserve. Thus, it was the failure of the S.E.C. to regulate these institutions and to so brazenly disregard their post—so much so as to allow an insurance giant like AIG to become a multi-billion dollar hedge fund—that required the FED to step in and rectify the situation.

     

    According to the Federal reserve, their official buy price of Citigroup was $3.25 a share, and considering that it is now trading at $3.97 they actually stand to make a profit off of this support. Thus, in turn, the American people stand to make a profit off of their tax dollars via the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP). This is only one case in many where the government is turning a profit from the bailout money. Most of the major banks actually made good with their payments of interest and principle, or are planning to do so soon. The major setbacks of the tarp plan were actually General Motors, AIG, Fannie May, and Freddie Mac.

     

    The point here is that the 700 billion dollar TARP plan that everyone is blaming the federal reserve and President Obama for—this number actually tops a trillion dollars with all the emergency funding required of the fed before the bill was passed—WAS NECESSARY, and is why we are currently hovering under 10% unemployment, instead of in the middle to high 25th percentile. Furthermore, that trillion dollars that we are complaining about paying back is estimated, after profit and return of principle, to only be a net 26 billion dollar loss.

     

    While I understand 26 billion dollars is nothing to scoff at, I believe it is a fair sum to stave off deflation and economic depression; And, furthermore, it is a sum which is within the limitations of our government to pay off in the next few years. If anything I applaud the extraordinary measures that Bernanke and associates did at the Federal Reserve. After any market mania—as was the housing bubble, and the internet bubble before it—I feel it is important that we take an inward look at ourselves, and our individual behaviors and actions, to find a way to stave off the repetition of history.

     

    I am assuming that many of the posters on this board are, or have been, investors, and thus have a personal attachment to this particular issue. I am an investor as well, and seeing as I steered as far from the madness of the investment banks and the housing bubble as I possibly could, I feel personally stung by this incident. If you really want to prevent, or at least dampen the effect, of future events like this we must all act collectively when the next mania grips our hearts and our purse strings. Do not succumb to the easy money, made so fast as to question whether it simply materialized out of thin air.

     

    It appears again and again we as humans must be reminded that there is no Philosopher's Stone, a quest that has led Kings and Clergy to disrepute and ruin. Instead, the next time you see something that makes you say to yourself, "Hey, this seems too good to be true!", walk away, and tell your friends to walk away, for it is the times that optimism and euphoria are at their highest when blackguards and rogues walk amongst honest men.
    30 Sep 2010, 01:37 PM Reply Like
  • Kurt Shrout
    , contributor
    Comments (301) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » George,

     

    Having read your piece, I can tell you that you were censored due to your negative comments regarding Citigroup, et cetera, and/or the SEC. Yahoo has a history of censoring anti-corporate and/or anti-U.S.-government rhetoric.

     

    As I do not need to tell you, you said nothing, and worded nothing in a manner, that warranted any sort of censorship. You were censored anyway – simply because Yahoo and others can get away with it and the censorship is consistent with their selfish agenda. Much longer story made very short, when you live in a country where everyone, or almost everyone, in political power is on the take via hefty campaign contributions, bribes (There is way more of this going on than is believed to be the case.), promises of a cushy, high-paying job if they are not reelected, et cetera, this sort of thing is going to happen – and it is not going to be properly-publicized, if publicized at all, when it does happen.

     

    Your piece indicates that you are much more well-spoken and knowledgeable than is the norm. This puts you at greater risk of being censored – and harassed in other ways. We all have to make our own choices; but I hope that you can/will continue to speak freely and strive to circumvent the censorship, without too much risk to your future quality of life. Your words are, actually, more important than is the norm.

     

    P.S., You may know some things that I don’t regarding this, but I think that the SEC deserves more-limited blame. The SEC was, and continues to be, very short-staffed. Also, the rules weren’t in place for some things, like derivatives, to be properly regulated. In support of your point though, some of the SEC staff had, it seems, been appointed or instructed to not enforce the rules that were in place because those in power at the time did not want these rules enforced.
    2 Oct 2010, 03:04 AM Reply Like
  • sportfisher
    , contributor
    Comment (1) | Send Message
     
    yahoo routinely censors messages

     

    They should not be allowed to conduct business in any country which allows freedom of speech.

     

    Hey yahoo, censor this - Go straight to hell (after you go bk that is)...
    1 Jan 2011, 09:03 PM Reply Like
  • salleeaz
    , contributor
    Comments (79) | Send Message
     
    I didn't know this about Yahoo. I have been using them as my home page for years but no more. Any recommendations for a new home page and email account?
    9 Feb 2011, 07:03 PM Reply Like
  • Kurt Shrout
    , contributor
    Comments (301) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » I commend you for your upcoming move away from Yahoo. I don’t have a recommendation. I use MSN; but there are a lot of little quality issues with it, so I can’t say that I recommend it.
    10 Feb 2011, 01:20 AM Reply Like
  • flamestat
    , contributor
    Comment (1) | Send Message
     
    I have been censored because I showed that the subprime mortgage crisis was primarily the result of the Republicans. They loosened regulations and did not act in time. What’s worse the media entered into a conspiracy to blame everything on Barney Frank. The long and the short of it is the Republicans held the Precedency, both houses of congress and most judges were Republicans. No Democrat had the power to prevent congress from doing anything. Barney was blamed because he was a member of a committee that has indirect oversight of mortgages. The one who ran the committee was a Republican named Mike Oxley. It is outrageous that people are censored for exposing fraud.
    11 Dec 2011, 04:35 AM Reply Like
  • Kurt Shrout
    , contributor
    Comments (301) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » If it is possible and not too much of a hassle for you, please post below the exact message you attempted to post that was blocked. This way, we can confirm that: (1) You did not curse. (2) You did not attempt to sell goods or services. (3) You did not attempt to incite violence. (These three things are valid reasons for censorship on the Yahoo message boards.) Also, please confirm that you were censored on the Yahoo message boards--or were you censored somewhere else? If it was a Yahoo message board, which one was it and on what date(s) and time(s) did it occur?

     

    From some quick research, it seems that some of your supporting facts above aren't stated as precisely as they ideally should be. For instance, it seems that Oxley headed the House Committee on Financial Services from 2001-2006 and Frank headed it from 2007-2010; and the Democrats had greater control of the House of Representatives from 2007-2010. This is worthy of mentioning here, but it does not necessarily make your conclusion incorrect. Also, and most importantly, it is not sufficient reason for censorship by Yahoo. Another message board participant can make these clarifications; and, then, you can reconsider and/or clarify the basis for your conclusion.

     

    If you don't have a copy of your exact message that was censored, I encourage you to do the following in the future. For any longer messages, type your text into a Word document or the like and then copy the finished product into the Yahoo message board message. By saving the Word document periodically, you end up with a record of attempted text messages. As side benefits, you get spell checking and, if you accidently cursed or the like, you can make a relatively quick fix and resubmit the same message.
    12 Dec 2011, 03:01 AM Reply Like
  • VanishingMediator
    , contributor
    Comment (1) | Send Message
     
    seeking alpha censored my friends "Debunking Geo" article on here because they have a relationship with GeoInvesting. Geoinvesting has been running several Short and Distort schemes against Chinese reverse merger companies like L&L energy. This company has around 6 million shares shorted, and message boards are flooded with negative attention grabbing posts. A few careful analyses by intelligent posters however reveals that Geo's articles and constant stream of negative PR against the company to counter every positive PR the company releases do nothing other than reference financial documents and misrepresent what is said in them, hoping that no one will carefully analyze their arguments. They also claim "Chinese state media" has backed up their claims, when in reality the second tier news organization they are referencing is merely stating that GEO has made such claims.
    16 Oct 2013, 05:41 PM Reply Like
  • Kurt Shrout
    , contributor
    Comments (301) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » Seeking Alpha, like the Yahoo message board and many other American entities, are also guilty of censorship on a fairly regular basis. It may be, though, that it is only individual editors on Seeking Alpha that censor. The organization as a whole may not be responsible, although I suspect they are responsible for, at least, some of it. My experience is that, if you pursue a specific incident with Seeking Alpha management, you will get your piece published―if it is a good enough piece to begin with. I have seen some instances where people thought that they were censored, but their article was simply not strong enough for publication.

     

    Censorship on Seeking Alpha works like this: (1) There are quality standards for publication that only about a quarter of all articles submitted meet. (2) Most articles, by far, are treated fairly; but editors vary in quality and perspective, and they are reviewing and editing a lot material quickly―so their work can be less than perfect. (3) On some topics, if your article takes a certain stance, the quality standards may be lessened or, even, waived. If your article takes the opposite stance, the quality standards may be heightened. In fact, sometimes, criticisms are simply contrived.

     

    To my current knowledge, the following types of articles have been subject to bias and censorship: (1) Articles in favor of smaller-cap U.S.-listed Chinese stocks for which a short-side article(s) was already published. (2) Articles against Chinese stocks fear mongering. (3) Articles against dividend stocks investing. (4) Articles against gold investing.

     

    If your article is well-enough organized and written, but does not present a strong case, it may get published to give the appearance of being fair. It is the articles that present a strong case that are more prone to be censored. Also, there can be attempts to weaken the case presented within strong case articles under the guise of editing.

     

    By the way, do not expect to always be treated fairly in the Comments section beneath the articles either. There is, sometimes, bias in what comments get censored (deleted) and which do not.

     

    The reason for the bias and censorship is, very largely, money. America, as a whole, is far from having freedom of speech―due, in part, to the undue influence of money. Seeking Alpha has a policy that states that workers are not supposed to attempt to profit from the knowledge of what will be published. Policies like this cannot be policed well though. In brief, workers can simply have an acquaintance invest for them. I suspect this is, in part at least, what has been going on in terms of the Chinese stocks short-side articles.

     

    Seeking Alpha has a large section for Dividends & Income investing and a large number of authors who make money by pushing dividend stocks investing. A lot of Seeking Alpha’s advertisers push dividend stocks investing (although they very often push other things as well). None push the opposite. Gold investing is another thing that Seeking Alpha authors and advertisers often push. There are some short-side gold ETFs, but there is a relatively tiny amount invested in them.

     

    Also, realize or remember that Americans have been propagandized on a huge number of subjects. The Chinese system(s) versus the American system(s) is one of these subjects. There is very little accurate understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the Chinese and American systems in America; so most Americans, by far, are overly biased against things that are Chinese.

     

    I have followed the L&L Energy (LLEN) story some. If what you are saying about the Chinese media’s reporting regarding LLEN, et cetera, is true, it is important that this information is published. I suspect that it is true. Although something like 30% of the Chinese companies listed in the U.S. as of a while back were committing fraud, it is also true that well over 90% of the specific criticisms leveled against these companies by short sellers were false, grossly exaggerated, or largely misleading―whether the company was actually committing fraud or not. Make certain the article is well organized and written and, then, insist upon its publication. Be open to editorial changes, but do not allow a strong case to be weakened via editing. If GeoInvesting misrepresented the situation, you should be able to politely but clearly say so. I have seen GeoInvesting misrepresent many things in the past. If they misrepresented even more things, I am not surprised.

     

    Remember, though, you are bucking up against the greater money direction. People involved, and/or people they know and are inclined toward, are shorting LLEN. GeoInvesting publishes a lot on Seeking Alpha and has over 25,000 followers. What counts the most on Seeking Alpha, and many other websites, is not right or wrong or true or false―it is the money. Also remember that LLEN is a communist country company and that we also live in a propagandist state. Your road toward publication of something genuinely good and not significantly watered down will probably be difficult.
    19 Oct 2013, 06:08 AM Reply Like
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